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To Pee or Not to Pee

22 Apr

It’s a familiar scene in my life as a stay at home mother in South Carolina.  The sun is beaming, the dog is trotting around the fenced-in yard, my gloved hands coax weeds out of the flowerbeds, and my three-year-old strips down to her birthday suit, leans against a maple and pees on the grass.  No one who isn’t related to her can see her in these precious moments, but it still bothers my husband. 

“Phoebe, what are you doing?” my husband roars.

“Mommy doesn’t care.”

“Is this true?” he accuses.

I look up from my weeding, oblivious to the problem.  “I’m sorry, what’s going on?”

“Our daughter is pissing in the grass naked, that’s what’s going on.”  He’s actually turning a shade of red.

“Oh.  She does that all the time when we’re outside.  Well, as long as it’s warm enough, and she only does it in the backyard where no one will see her.” 

I neglect to mention that she also used to do this in the front yard, that she does it in the woods when we’re on a hike, that she does it at playgrounds without facilities, and in the gravel on the side of a highway when the next rest area isn’t for thirty miles.  Like a good and diplomatic wife, I also neglect to remind him that he took no part in potty training and that I was magnanimous enough to conduct the ordeal while he was out of town for two weeks.  He was not subjected to the urine and feces on the bathroom floor, on the carpet, on the driveway, on the kitchen chairs.  Nor was he present for the endless reminders during playtime for our little angel to take a break or for her first adventures in public restrooms.  I exempted him from those trials by fire.  Letting Phoebe pee outside saved me from dragging her inside to the bathroom every single time we were in the middle of finger painting, hose squirting, yard mowing and flower planting. 

Now playing in the theater of my mind: miles of comedic film featuring my sister and I who performed the same outdoor relief sessions as my daughter.  My mother didn’t care if we popped a squat behind a tree, in fact, on our long nature walks she often had to join us.  On car trips fromOhiotoNew YorkandSouth Carolina, it was par for the course for at least one of us to make a deposit in the old chamber pot Mom stowed under the driver’s seat.  I’ll never forget the time my sister sat atop the thing, pushing out turds as we traversed aTennesseehighway riddled with pot-holes, me propping her up so she didn’t topple off and soil the red upholstery of the ’77 Buick Regal.  Regal indeed. When my mother finally pulled over so we could rid the car of the noxious presence, we all had a good laugh that the name of the interchange was “Stinking Creek Road.” 

Relieving ourselves in the Great Outdoors is a family tradition, the source of shared humiliation and hilarious memories.  It is not uncommon at family get-togethers for someone to open up with, “Remember the time Grandma had to take a dump….”  Seriously, this is how we entertain ourselves.  

My husband doesn’t have these stories. His family is not reserved by any stretch of the imagination, but they don’t sit around exchanging shit stories like my family.  As I calmly explain how I let Phoebe strip down to avoid soiling her clothes while she pees on our lawn, he still looks at me like I’m a little off. So I come out with “What’s the big deal?  She’s a little kid. Besides, the dog does it all the time.”

Wow, did I just compare our kid to the dog?  Yes, but I’m drowning.  I’m being called out and I need concrete rationalization and the first thing I see is the dog lifting his leg on the same tree our daughter peed near just moments ago.  Perhaps Phoebe and the dog are engaged in a territory battle, who knows.  My husband’s disapproving face makes me feel like I need a follow up retort.

“Hey,” I mustered, “it’s not like I let her take a dump in the yard.  That’s only in absolute emergency situations.”

My husband’s reply is to march back into the house sighing audibly.

It is at this point that I seriously consider the question of when I will have to not only discourage my daughter from peeing in the yard, but cut her off altogether.  I even poll my friends for input on the decision.  The consensus is age 4.  Phoebe has just two months of pissing freedom left.  I will explain to her with love and compassion that she may no longer “water the grass.”  Except in emergency situations.  You always have to leave that contingency plan in place.  Just ask anyone in my family. 

My father, especially, commiserates with the emergency situation, although his emergencies are almost always of the “No. 2” variety.  We recount fondly, and with uproarious laughter, the time when my dad had to pull over in an elementary school parking lot and quietly shit behind a dumpster while beseeching his daughters in stage whispers to check the glove compartment for leftover Burger King napkins.  Thankfully, there were several.

In related news, a postal worker was arrested the other day for defecating behind some trash bins; a local resident actually captured the incident on video and the late night hosts have taken a few comedic jabs at the situation.  I would like to come to the defense of this postman, my daughter, my father and anyone who has ever had nature call when facilities were simply not an option.  Sometimes you just have to go.  And while my daughter enjoys full reign of the backyard for the time being, I will instruct in the nuances of discretion.  If you can make it to the toilet, fine.  If you can’t, then you just can’t and you shouldn’t be chastised, judged or arrested.  Because, let’s face it, sometimes pee, and shit, just happen.

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Battle of the Sexes: Pissing Edition

23 Mar

When it comes to peeing outside, men certainly have an unfair advantage.  The equipment practically begs to swing free in the breeze, free to water the grass or write a name in the snow.  When a woman has to pee away from access to indoor plumbing, she is forced to conduct reconnaissance, look for adequate cover, squat, and then shake her rear-end a bit and hope to God no one but her best girlfriends saw the debacle.  

Since I was a little girl, I remember being jealous of men’s ability to simply drop their pants and water the grass.  This envy was first evoked when I watched my father simply pull over to the side of the road during a road trip, pee, and then return to the driver’s seat in less than ninety seconds.  Had my mother, my sister or myself felt the urge, the scene would have unfolded a bit differently.  When a woman is on the road she has to start looking for rest area stops miles in advance of desperation or risk “Special-Ops Mode”, which may include the opening of both car doors to produce makeshift privacy shields. 

“Special-Ops Mode” is not solely reserved for road trips.  A stretch of city sidewalk after the bars have all closed, a parking lot that takes eons to empty after a concert, a long hiking trail- any of these will force girlfriends to play look-out for one another while our male counterparts simply find a tree, a car, anything really, and pretend to merely peruse their surroundings. 

As someone who has been cursed with a tiny bladder, I can’t help but get a little green when I hear my husband, a professional helicopter pilot in the Gulf of Mexico, discuss how he flies around for hours and if he has to pee at an unmanned, no-facilities, platform 100 miles offshore, he simply pisses in the wind. 

“What do female pilots do?” I asked.

Apparently there is a very complicated and secretive protocol that female pilots reveal to their fledgling female colleagues when they enter the fold.  God forbid other pilots buzzing around the Gulf risk the distraction of a bare female ass. 

For all my bitching here, I really don’t have a viable solution.  Do we change the social norms so that the female squat becomes just as acceptable as the male’s watering-the-tree-stance?  I’m pretty open, but I don’t think I want to see that.  I’ve heard there’s a hose-like apparatus…but who wants to lug that around in their purse?  And you thought having a tampon make an unannounced appearance on the check-out counter is mortifying enough, thank you.

I guess what makes me so bitter about the male advantage in The Great Outdoors, is that the men I know seem to flaunt it.  When we moved into our new home, one of the first things my husband did was piss off the deck into our backyard.  Is this some residual caveman urge to mark territory?  Add some alcohol to the mix and every single man I have ever known has gone out of his way, shirking the available indoor plumbing, to pee outside by choice

I asked them why.  Why would you do that?  The response?  They enjoy the “freedom of it.”  “It just comes naturally.”  The most common answer is that they do it because they can.   And therein lies the source of my envy. 

So ladies, we’ll just have to take comfort in the things we can do that they can’t.  Yeah, yeah.  We can have a baby, but that hurts.  A lot.  I mean take comfort in the things that don’t suck, like multi-task effectively, use both sides of our brain simultaneously, find things in refrigerators and closets.  And last, but not least, enjoy lower car insurance premiums.  I guess even pissing in the wind has its price. 

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